Kisembo Juliet

My name is Kisembo Juliet, and I am a single mother of one. I am a smallholder farmer and a petty business woman, and I joined Kugonza savings group in April 2012.

My day begins at around 6am, when I go to the garden to get food for my family and some cassava for the market. I then go around the village searching for more fresh cassava to buy, which I dry and then resell. I then come back home at around 2pm to prepare a meal for the family. Once lunch is done, I go to the market to serve my customers with dried cassava.

I have always lived in absolute poverty, because I had a humble upbringing with no stable income. I did not go to school for my parents were too poor to educate any of their children, and we could not easily access basic necessities such as food, medical care and clothing. We got used to having just one light meal a day because it was all we could afford. Growing up in such poverty meant I had to enter an early marriage, in which I had one child with an irresponsible poor man who later abandoned us.

When the VSLA project was introduced in our village in 2012, I joined an Association and in the first cycle I managed to save 120,000 Shilling [£28], which I used to start my dry cassava business. I have since continuously borrowed money to invest in this business. The profits enable me to save on a weekly basis, and better provide for our needs at home.

In the second cycle I saved 306,600 Shillings [£73], which l used to buy a solar panel. I use it to charge phones in the village, since we have no access to mains electricity. This helped increase my income further, and I now have enough food for my child, who I am now assured will be able to live a healthy life.”

A delighted Juliet says, “If I raise enough money, I would like to venture into more business dealings and expand my existing ones so that I can secure my child`s education up to university level.”